As the island begins the celebrations of 48 years of self-government this week, it was a shock to learn over the weekend that Hon. Atapana Siakimotu had passed away after a brief illness.
The former Speaker of the Fono Ekepule Hon. Atapana Siakimotu passed away in Auckland on Saturday night surrounded by his wife Loseligi and their three sons and the extended family. He was 74 years old.
As the Speaker, he hosted nine flag-raising days. The flag-raising day during the constitution celebrations is the day the Speaker hosts the leaders and people of Niue and visiting dignitaries to celebrate. Hon. Siakimotu is always seen at every flag-raising celebration since so for many people on the island, his voice and his presence will be sorely missed tomorrow.
Community leaders and politicians pay tribute to the former educator and Director of Education, a diplomat who served as Niue’s Consular General and Trade Commissioner in Auckland before becoming Speaker of the Fono.
Common Roll member of parliament Hon. O’love Jacobsen told BCN News that Atapana Siakimotu lived a productive life and contributed much to the development of education in Niue. She recalled fondly the times they worked together when she was Minister of Education and he was the Director of Education.
Jacobsen paid tribute to a dedicated public servant and recall his nine years in the Fono Ekepule as the Speaker.
New Zealand’s Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon. Aupito William Sio during an interview with BCN News this morning paid tribute to one of the strongest supporters of the vagahau Niue “I want to pause and just acknowledge Pana Siakimotu who passed away, because as an educator he was one of the champions and advocates for vagahau Niue, along with many many others who are no longer with us”.
Atapana Siakimotu started his public service career as a teacher at Niue High School after returning from studies in the then Western Samoa.
He became NHS principal and later the Director of Education when he was also instrumental in the creation of the Vagahau Niue bi-lingual dictionary as the leader of the project.
In the mid-1990s he was appointed as Niue’s Consular General and Trade Commissioner to New Zealand.
In 2002 he became the Speaker of the Fono Ekepule, serving 3 consecutive terms until 2011 when he informed the 13th Assembly that he was bowing out of the speakership.
After a brief retirement, the government again called on Atapana Siakimotu to serve as the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission, a fitting end to a public service career spanning some fifty years.
Hon. Atapana Siakimotu dedicated his life to Niue and the promotion of the vagahau Niue and the aga fakamotu, a composer of Niuean songs and chants, and will be remembered for his voice.
He will be missed by his village of Avatele where was a deacon and the Secretary of the Avatele Ekalesia and his voice will be missed in the church where he often leads the traditional hymns.
He will be missed by his many friends including his former students. One of his former students Sir Colin Tukuitonga extended his condolences to the family and the people of Avatele and Niue on the passing of Hon. Siakimotu, said that he was a gentleman who has done so much for the community.
Hon. Siakimotu was referred as a medical case to NZ in August this year but his illness was too advanced.
BCN News understands that his family will be returning his body home on Monday 24th October where he will be laid to rest at his beloved home at Talimaitoga, Avatele.
BCN news extends our deepest sympathies to Mrs Loseligi Siakimotu, and the family on the passing of Hon. Atapana Siakimotu.